Christmas markets are a beloved tradition in Italy; among them, one of the most famous and the first to open is the Santa Lucia Fair (Fiera di Santa Lucia) in Bologna, beginning today.
The Santa Lucia market dates back to the late 16th century, when it was held in front of the church by the same name (now the Aula Magna of the University of Bologna). It all began after Pope Gregory XIII donated a relic of Saint Lucia to the Diocese of Bologna. After that, in front of the church dedicated to the saint, peddlers began selling religious icons, including prayers, engravings and portraits of saints.
La Fiera di Santa Lucia now takes place under the portico of Santa Maria dei Servi, in the historic center along Strada Maggiore. Every day, from 8:30 am to 9 pm, colorful stands displaying Christmas decorations and food stands offering roasted chestnuts and cotton candy animate the area for visitors to enjoy a warm, festive atmosphere.
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